The public has a right to know who or what is influencing its government. Open Records and Freedom of Information laws are critical to ensuring a transparent and accountable government. Taxpayers deserve to know how their hard-earned money is being spent. And we ought to know who is massaging legislation or prodding elected officials' actions.
That's why Education Action Group, a Michigan-based national education reform organization, submitted an Open Records request to Dane County (Wisconsin) District Attorney Ismael Ozanne to obtain any and all communications he had surrounding litigation to block Gov. Scott Walker's budget repair bill.
A district attorney traditionally focuses on crime at the local level. EAG saw it as highly unusual that a DA would seek to block - and effectively void - an action by a state legislature. Who or what pushed him to do this?
Is he the Mr. Washington of Wisconsin? Or did Big Labor urge him and work with him to block the necessary reform?
It's EAG's intention to find out and we're serious about it. That's why we hired Paul Bucher, a Wisconsin lawyer who himself was a district attorney for 27 years. In addition to Ozanne, EAG is also seeking communications of Dane County Executive Kathleen M. Falk, who also filed suit to block the law from taking effect.
EAG will publish all of their communications surrounding these actions at PublicSchoolSpending.com.
As the CEO of EAG, I took this risk with the understanding that this will likely put us in the crosshairs of the left. Unions and other special interests have long treated government as its grab bag with hard-working taxpayers footing the bill. But government is accountable to taxpayers, not teachers unions and SEIU or any other special interest.
Their attacks and threats come with the territory, I suppose. I view it as our mission to seek truth and accountability for government and we will defend that right with everything we have.
The public deserves to have transparent and account leaders.